Chicago—Before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season was underway, ShopperTrak analysts predicted a 3.8% sales gain for 2014. By the mid-term, anticipation of an even stronger season began to mount when November outperformed expectations, assuming December was able to carry the momentum.
ShopperTrak is reporting that December did just that, generating a 4% sales increase, and lifting the holiday season to a 4.6% improvement over 2013. After a strong early push following Halloween and consistent Black Friday deals throughout the month, November boasted a 5.4% increase over last year ($120.2 billion). As expected, the Thanksgiving weekend brought in big numbers.
Despite a short lag after the Thanksgiving weekend, December began to heat up just ahead of Hanukkah and carried through to the days after Christmas. December reported a 4% increase in sales ($149.9 billion), as compared to the previous year.
Super Saturday did prove to be the top sales day of the year with an estimated $9.2 billion, just edging out the $9.1 billion generated on Black Friday. December was able to withstand early sales and eager shoppers, holding on to 7 of the top 10 sales days of the year. Strong sales followed the long Christmas weekend, closing out the month, and season, ahead of target. The 4.6% sales growth for the holiday season was the strongest since 2005, which was measured at a 5.2% lift.
The shift toward earlier shopping continued this year, as sales grew in November at the expense of December. With the exception of slight reversals in 2009 and 2011, years when the calendar leaned more favorably toward December, the split between the two months continues to narrow. This 10-year trend speaks to retailers’ success in elongating the shopping season, as well as the consumers’ increased willingness shop early.
The season’s top shopping days are always of interest to retailers, though 2014’s top performers seem to have had less of an impact than in past years. Super Saturday (ranked No. 1) and Black Friday (ranked No. 2) underperformed relative to expectations, with Super Saturday sales gaining only .46% and Black Friday sales falling more than 7% compared to last year. This outcome punctuates the declining importance of a single day within the season. While Black Friday and Super Saturday still hold the top spots, consumers seem less attracted to the value-based pricing associated with the two days and are responding more to the sales and promotions available throughoutthe season. This indicates that there is still a significant strength and resilience in the consumer, which is demonstrated by shoppers’ willingness to participate in the 61-day extravaganza, said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. www.shoppertrak.com